The winding career paths – what is it like to change careers?

Heikki Hämäläinen Software Architect, Solita

Published 15 May 2023

Reading time 4 min

The era of one career path is over. Nowadays it is normal to change careers and have more than one career path. A career change is a scary thought, and it demands extra effort to succeed. We decided to ask five Solitans, how they did their career changes, what are their best tips for others in the same situation, and what are their thoughts about changing their careers now.

Solitans in the spotlight

  • Heikki H., a former diocesan notary, works as a Software Architect

  • Linda, a former marine biologist, works as a Data Engineer
  • Heikki P., a former nurse, works as Junior Agile Coach
  • Heidi, a former event project manager, works as an Analytics Consultant
  • Anna-Mari, a former nurse, works as Low-Code Software Designer

Both Heikkis, Linda, and Heidi got a small taste of IT in their previous fields, and that made them curious: could this be a new career for me? Anna-Mari was accepted to study computer sciences, but she ended up studying different fields first and working as a nurse. Years back Anna-Mari decided to try coding on her own, and she got excited, “After a few Youtube videos I decided to enroll in an open university course about Java. Quite quickly I was sold”.

Do not put yourself in a box!

Sometimes the biggest thing preventing you from changing things is you: maybe you think your family background is not suitable, you do not have the right education or you are too old for a career change. Our career changing Solitans were in their 30’s, when they decided to rotate their careers.

Also, it is a common misconception that to be able to work in the IT industry one should be super keen on computers or coding. Heikki and Anna-Mari thought so. However, by trying new things Heikki and Anna-Mari found a new sparkle and it pushed them towards a new career path.

Ideas how to get started

Our Solitans have faced the same question as all others facing a career change: From where to begin and how will I manage things? Heikki P suggests talking to someone who works in IT to get a better picture of available roles: “Test your assumptions and ask questions. You will be surprised by how divergent roles there are in IT “. Heikki H adds that the University of Helsinki has good MOOC courses: “Try them, it will at least give you an idea of what the work would be like. “ Linda noticed that a lot of degrees and courses are now available online, so your location will not slow you down. “Combining work, life and studying is not easy, but it is possible, it requires a good routine”, she concludes.

The temporary trade-off things

It is evident that if you change your career, you will need to put effort into it. Heikki P. cut off working hours when he was studying for the entrance exams. Heidi took time off from work and used an adult education allowance. Heikki H., Linda, and Anna-Mari have been balancing work and studies which meant good calendar handling and discipline. Hobbies, friendships, and families might suffer, but it will be temporary and the trade will pay off according to our Solitans: their balance of work and time off is now perfect. The opportunities to develop oneself are what all the career changers see as a positive side of the IT industry. They all can see meaningful progress in their careers.

“It wasn’t the straightest way to Solita, but it was worth it!” -Linda

Changing a career does not mean that you would not be able to use your previously acquired skills. Heikki H. and Linda use their domain knowledge in their current client projects. “As a nurse, I would prioritize constantly, and that has proven to be a really important skill in IT too”, Anna-Mari says. Heikki P’s former career has taught him how to work in faced-paced environments, “Something surprising would also show up, and things would be incomplete. It was the perfect ramp to become an Agile Coach. Solita saw the potential in me, and I feel that I’m valued for my past experience”.

Solita supporting career changers

There are different ways to begin your career at Solita: Some of our interviewed Solitans came through Solita’s own Academies, some through external educational partnerships and some were recruited. Linda met Solitans at her previous job and that inspired her to apply to Solita, Heidi, and Heikki P. heard about Solita from a friend.

What the career-changing Solitans have loved about Solita are the overall atmosphere, work-life balance, and values. Heikki P. adds Solita’s positive attitude towards families, which makes it easier for him to balance between work and family. Anna-Mari has experienced the community being supportive and helpful. She and Heidi have been surprised by how well Solitan values are rooted in everyday work. Heikki H. enjoys the busy office days with colleagues, “I have been able to focus on things that interest me: client projects and coding. That is important to me”. Linda concludes, “It wasn’t the straightest way to Solita, but it was worth it!”. We all agree.

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